Friday, July 9, 2010

I Ran into Bill McKibben!

Wonder of wonders, I ran into my hero at the Grand Union grocery store in North Creek, 12 miles from my home, which is the closest place for us to buy foodstuffs. I was pawing through the ice cream case when a man, deftly wielding a grocery cart, sped around the corner. He had sunglasses on and a t-shirt, which was the dead giveaway to the celebrity's identity. Bill McKibben, back in Johnsburg! (He now lives with his wife, the author Sue Halpern, across Lake Champlain near Middlebury, Vermont.)

As I've said before in this blog, McKibben's book Wandering Home: A Long Walk across America's Most Hopeful Landscape: Vermont's Champlain Valley and New York's Adirondacks was the final impetus that pushed Ken and me to move from Boston to the Adirondack wilderness, the last remaining wilderness in the East, which is protected by the New York State constitution, protected more fully than any wild land in the United States. McKibben was a leading wilderness preservationist at the time.

Alas, I have to put that verb in the past tense because McKibben is now totally focused on the organization he created,, which is focused on curbing carbon emissions in the hopes of stalling out-of-control climate change. I have absolutely no quarrels with that--he sees his mission and it's now a global one.

At the grocery store, on this, my second time meeting him, I was so tongue-tied, I couldn't say much, though he quite clearly remembered me. I told him I loved his "latest book," momentarily forgetting the title, something that could only happen to someone of my vintage, but we exchanged a few co-activist pleasantries (I told him about my wilderness preservation work) and then we moved on. A very nice man, who is NOT full of himself. Very nice, indeed.

The title of his latest book is Eaarth:Making a Life on a Tough New Planet. I read it earlier this year when it first came out. And I urge others to read it. We need people like McKibben to remind us, over and over again, that the planet we live on now is not the one we think we live on, but a vastly changed planet. Let's change the course we're on before it's too late!


  1. Cool bookish celebrity sighting! I especially like the last paragraph of your post. Whenever I see someone driving a Hummer I start to choke on my rage. Thanks for a great post.

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